Percy had decided to go into work late so he could find a wedding present for Bill, and he had accomplished his goal. He had a gift-wrapped package shrunk and in his pocket with a sticking charm. Percy decided to walk the rest of the way to the ministry. He was caught up on his work, and it was such a beautiful day, he didn’t want to waste it.
It’d been a wonderful weekend. Two months ago when he had received the invitation to Bill’s wedding, he thought he would spend the weekend at home, alone, and miserable. But Audrey had changed everything. She had declared “Muggle Weekend” to take his mind off of missing Bill’s wedding. He knew he was in love with Audrey, and she loved him back. He’d even summoned his Gryffindor courage yesterday to tell her first, he thought proudly.
Something in a shop window caught Percy’s eye as he passed. He pressed his face to the glass to get a better look. Right in front of the display case was a diamond ring with a band of gold butterflies connected wingtip to wingtip. It was perfect for Audrey. The shop wasn’t open yet, but Percy hurried to knock on the door. Merlin! Percy stopped himself in mid-knock. That was an engagement ring. A person would only purchase an engagement ring if he were going to propose. Percy paused to think. He loved Audrey. She made him happy. She loved him and didn’t try to change him. Yes! He wanted to marry her. He began to knock on the door again, and again stopped. What if she said no? Percy shook himself and firmly told himself to quit dithering. He was a Gryffindor! He summoned his Gryffindor courage and knocked on the door.
An elderly woman answered immediately, “May I help you, young man?”
“Yes, ma’am. Er . . . I’m interested in the ring in your window.”
“The shop doesn’t actually open until ten, but come in.”
“Thank you.” Percy stepped into the store as the woman held the door, then she locked it again behind him.
“I have to confess, I saw you looking in the window, and was watching to see if you would get up enough courage to come in or not.”
“Er . .” Percy blushed.
“That’s all right, dear, I see it all the time.” She patted Percy on the arm. “Now which ring was it you wanted to see?”
“The one with the butterflies.”
She walked over to the case as she spoke, “Oh, that one is lovely. It’s always been a particular favorite of mine, but you’re the first person who has wanted to see it.” She fiddled with some keys from her pocket, unlocked the case, removed the velvet cushion that held the butterfly ring, as well as some other pieces, and placed it on the counter.
Percy didn’t have to look twice at the ring to know it was perfect for Audrey. He also bought her a matching butterfly necklace for her birthday present. He was very thankful Audrey had helped him set up his own Muggle bank account so he didn’t have to go to Gringotts every time they wanted to do something in the Muggle world. Percy paid for his purchases, had the birthday gift wrapped, thanked the shop’s proprietor, and continued on his way to the ministry.
After his unplanned stop, Percy didn’t want to be much later for work, so he slipped into the nearest alley to apparate to the ministry entrance. Something was wrong, though. Why couldn’t he apparate? He was confused, but he didn’t take time to worry about it and continued walking to the Ministry. When he approached, he saw a large crowd gathered outside of the Ministry building. What in the world? Before he could ask anyone what was happening, Percy felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw a very tall, blond man.
“Weasley,” the man said, “where have you been all weekend?”
What right did this man have to ask for his whereabouts? Who did he think he was?! Percy puffed out his chest and responded haughtily, “What business is it of yours?”
The man poked Percy in the chest and hissed back, “It IS my business, Weasley, because I am the new Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement under the NEW Minister of Magic. It is my business to know where everyone is. So you will not take that tone with me if you know what’s good for you.”
Percy was shocked. “I apologize, Sir. I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware there was a new Minister of Magic.”
“Minister Scrimgeour was murdered on Saturday by a group of Mudblood conspirators. We are implementing new security procedures to protect Minister Thicknesse as we interview suspects. You will no longer be able to apparate to the Ministry, but will need to use tokens and enter over there.” He pointed. “These new procedures will help us weed out the undesirables.”
“Yes. The Mudbloods and those who support them. Don’t worry, Weasley. You’re Pureblood, and since you’ve completely cut ties with your Blood Traitor family, you’ll be fine. I was gratified to see you were not in attendance at your brother’s wedding on Saturday. You seem to know your place. Let’s keep it that way, yeah?”
“Yes, Sir.” Percy felt extremely uneasy.
“Good lad. You may enter the Ministry.” With that he handed Percy a token, patted him on the shoulder, and walked away.
Percy started towards where the blond man had indicated. He didn’t even know who he was. Percy was surprised when he walked into a bathroom. There was a line of people entering the stalls. Percy wondered if he had gone to the right place, when he heard someone muttering about “Bloody inconvenient new entrance” and figured he had. When Percy entered a stall, a disembodied woman’s voice said serenely,
“Please insert your token, step into the toilet, and press the button.”
They had to flush themselves into the Ministry?! What the bloody hell . . .? Percy looked at the toilet uncertainly. Then he saw the feet on the ground next to him step up. He stepped into the toilet. He was completely disgusted! This could NOT be sanitary. He pushed the button, and fell down a pipe, arriving in the atrium. At least he was dry. As Percy got up off the floor, he saw a huge black sculpture had replaced the fountain. He was horrified to see it was made of piles of skeletons. “MAGIC IS MIGHT” was carved into the base. Percy was worried. What in Merlin’s name had happened? He had to find Audrey.
He went to Audrey’s office before going to his own. He was horrified to find it locked and dark. She should have been here by now! And even more disturbing, the “Muggle Liaison Office” sign on the door was missing. Becoming more confused by the second, Percy went to his own office.
There was a swarm of memos flapping around his ceiling. He collected them and began to read. Percy’s worry turned to terror as the words seemed to attack him. “Minister Murdered by Mudbloods”, “Perpetrators will be Prosecuted”, “Muggleborn Registration Commission”, “Magic Is Might, Muggles Can’t Fight”. Percy spent the rest of the day sorting through all of the memos and answering the ones he had to.
Even though he had come to the Ministry late, he left right at 5. He exited the building, found an alley, and apparated directly to Audrey’s flat. It was completely empty.